Rozner: Seabrook's Blackhawks career was solid as a rock

  • Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook congratulates goalie Antti Niemi after the Blackhawks beat the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals on May 31, 2010.

    Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook congratulates goalie Antti Niemi after the Blackhawks beat the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals on May 31, 2010. AP File Photo

 
 
Updated 3/7/2021 6:11 PM

Antti Niemi wasn't terrific in Game 1 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, which raised a few eyebrows and made a decent portion of the locals nervous.

So when he bounced back from giving up 5 goals in that Blackhawks victory to allow only a single shot past him in a Game 2 win, it was certainly worth a conversation.

 

When I entered the dressing room, the cameras and microphones went to the usual suspects. On a very deep team filled with so many stars, there were several directions to travel, but no one went to Niemi, so -- of course -- that's where I went.

As we began talking, no one else was there. After about a minute, I felt a push on my shoulder. I turned to see a CBC cameraman poaching my interview. Apparently, he was also bothered that I was stepping into his shot.

I suggested he wait 30 seconds and then he could ask his own questions.

After engaging Niemi again, I felt the same push. All it took was a glance back at him -- and a not-too polite suggestion that he ask his own questions and do his own work -- and his response in proper Canadian accent was, "What, you wanna go?"

I was like, yeah, let's drop 'em in the locker room after a Stanley Cup Final game. Excellent career choice.

That's when I heard laughing directly to my right. Brent Seabrook was enjoying the moment. I stepped aside and invited the cameraman to do his own work, in so many words. He did not. He and his camera departed.

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I finished with Niemi and shifted to Seabrook, who was sitting down and unlacing his skates. Seabrook said he was hoping for a media brawl. I said no more fights for me. Two bad shoulders. Don't need any more problems.

Seabrook nodded in empathy, before claiming he would have stepped in had anything jumped off, minus a clarification of which side he might have taken.

After acknowledging his manners, I pointed around the room at the massive media presence, the crowds surrounding numerous players, and yet he had only a single interrogator near him.

That, naturally, was good with him. He was hoping to get out of his equipment and out of the room before the group noticed he was there.

But I was interested in a play that wouldn't garner any attention. It was a crucial play in a crucial situation. It didn't result in a Chicago tally, so it went unnoticed.

It was a tweener play near the blueline in a tight game, one on which Seabrook nearly guessed wrong, but quickly changed direction, used his long stick and managed to break up a rush before it became a 3-on-1 the wrong direction.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Nondescript only because it ended well for the home team.

Seabrook then broke down the entire situation, explaining what he saw, where his partner was, the numbers coming back and where four of five Flyers were on the ice.

The detail in his mind's eye was impressive. It reminded me of Tiger Woods breaking down a shot, the exact numbers to front and back of green, the slope off the bunker, the wind and club selection.

Seabrook in the blink of an eye had made an extraordinary decision that probably kept the puck out of the back of his net. And yet, he knew where nine of the 10 skaters were on the ice in that split-second.

It's not as if they had iPads on the bench at that time and he hadn't reviewed any video. He was staring off into the distance and remembering the play, skater by skater, instant by instant.

For someone who didn't generally have a lot to say publicly, he was patient and thoughtful as we dissected the play.

And it was remarkable. Not exciting, like his postseason overtime game-winners, but nonetheless remarkable.

Hockey's a fast game, decisions made quickly and often by instinct. Not every player would have been able to recall with such detail precisely what happened.

In the hallway, I briefly asked Joel Quenneville about it, since I had missed his news conference.

The coach smiled and spoke about how Seabrook was a smart and unselfish player, how he always seemed to understand the right play, dictated by the time and score of the game.

Solid, Quenneville said. Solid all the way around.

Rock solid.

That feels like a pretty decent way to sum up a solid guy who had some terrific career.

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